One of the most epically awesome songs of 2010, Sufjan Stevens’ 25 minute long “Impossible Soul”, ends with a very sweet acoustic lullabye known as “Pleasure Principle.” This little section of the song wraps it up quite nicely and is one of the highlights of Age of Adz. Sufjan recently appeared on WNYC and took the time to play this song with the help of The National guitarist, Bryce Dessner, and fortunately for us it was recorded on video for all to enjoy. Gosh I wish he would come to Oklahoma.
The Age of Adz is on sale on Amazon for only $5 for just a few more days. If you haven’t bought it yet, I suggest you get it here now!
The Natural State is celebrating 175 years of statehood today. I have spent most of my life in Arkansas and have become very fond of my home state, and am therefore excited to celebrate that on June 15th, 1836, Arkansas was admitted to the Union as the 25th state. In honor of this occasion I am sharing with you the one and only song that Sufjan Stevens has written for the state of Arkansas. I had once hoped to someday get to dissect and digest an entire album of work inspired by this great state, but that dream seems to be nothing more than wishful thinking anymore. If you are fortunate enough to live in Arkansas right now, go outside today and enjoy some the natural beauty that this great state has to offer. If you have never been to Arkansas and laugh at the idea of it being one of the more beautiful states check out these phenomenal photos that give just a glimpse of some of the wonders you will encounter as you explore the Ozarks or the Buffalo River Valley.
Seven Swans, the legendary album from Sufjan Stevens is being “reimagined” by a collection of indie artists for charity. All profits from the album will go to benefit the Susan G. Komen For The Cure breast cancer foundation. The project was organized and put together by an independent compilation company, On Joyful Wings. They got 15 different and unique artists, ranging from Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy to Joshua James to The David Crowder Band, to deliver their own re-working of one of the Swans songs. I think the song I am most looking forward to hearing is Derek Webb’s interpretation of “In the Devil’s Territory.” The album will be released next Tuesday, the 29th. You can pre-order it here.
So, I thought I’d put together a little list of my favorite albums of the year. I never feel quite right about where I cut off the list, so to cope with my feelings, this year I’ve made an honorable mention consisting of…
Connect the Dots by Stacy Clark was an incredibly fun singer/songwriter album that crept up on my play counts. The Suburbs by The Arcade Fire had some standout tracks, but I couldn’t completely connect to the alt rock ensemble’s overdone anthem. Teen Dream by Beach House was at times truly haunting, Down the Way by folksters Angus & Julia Stone was charming, and undoubtedly Contra by Vampire Weekend was a strong effort for the indie-pop troupe. EyelidMovies by Phantogram had more sultry angst, catchy beats, and hooks than nearly any other album. And, folk mainstays Josh Rouse, Rocky Votolato, and Josh Ritter each put out respectable albums. Lastly, my number 11, just outside the magnificent 10, was Go by Jonsi. This album explores emotional highs and lows as well as the best Sigur Ros albums, and come quite hook laden to boot.
10. GoodOldWar – Good Old War. This folksy Philly trio reminds me a lot of a lighter-hearted Fleet Foxes. Their harmonies are tight and their story-telling is captivating. Check out my favorite track “That’s Some Dream”
9. Treats – Sleigh Bells. There’s no getting around the fact that this album is weird. But, I found its uniqueness refreshing and after letting it grow on me (substancially, I might add), I ended up really getting into the hardcore + beats + girl with beautiful voice combo. Standout track “Riot Rhythm” brings it home.
8. BrokenBells – Broken Bells. I’ve always been a fan of James Mercer when I came across his team up with Danger Mouse man Brian Burton, I fell in love – quickly. The album borrows bits and piece from The Shins sound, yet making its own and keeping it interesting. It has impressive highs and lows and sufficiently enigmatic lyrics to warrant a spot in my top ten. My favorite track has to be “Ghost Inside”.
7. GorillaManor – Local Natives. I was introduced to Local Natives through a free download of “Sun Hands” early in the year. I enjoyed the song, but didn’t see a need to investigate much further. Throughout the year, though, I kept seeing their name crop around LA (their hometown as well) with shows and eventually my interest was peaked enough to get GorillaManor. I definitely do not regret it. They are an indie rock outfit with hints of folk scattered here and there, which I love. Both catchy and smart, it’s a find.
6. HalcyonDigest – Deerhunter. It’s the dark mystique of Deerhunter that keeps me coming back. One of the artists of which I never tire and really connect. No song is overdone or skimped on. What impresses me is the album as a piece with just the right amount of ambience to tie it all together. They’re subtly inventive and never overwhelming.
5. ForeignTapes – Parades. This album had me hooked from the beginning. The male/female paired vocal, ranging delicate to powerful guitars, and creative drumming did it. Really a captivating album with tons going for it. I’m surprised I haven’t heard more about this group. “Marigold” is a gem and really caps a well jelled album. With many favorites it was hard to chose, but enjoy another take-away – “Past Lives.”
4. Age of Adz – Sufjan Stevens. I’m a Sufjan fan and always look forward to how he’s morphed. His innovation is admirable and if it weren’t for his beliefs I think reviewers would be slobbering over him at every turn. When you consider Age of Adz in combination with All Delighted People, this guy did work this year. Truly a hero of the singer/songwriter, he, yet again, doesn’t disappoint. The album finishes especially well, and since “Impossible Soul” was too big to attach, enjoy “I Want to Be Well.”
3. Tourist History – Two Door Cinema Club. This was my indie pop mainstay album this year. A definite “go-to” for a pick me up. The Irish Trio falls somewhere between the Arctic Monkeys and Passion Pit for me. This album is quick, smart, and energetic. No dull points, and no throw-aways. Really a great debut. “Something Good Can Work” is one of my favorite songs of the year.
2. The Wild Hunt – The Tallest Man on Earth. One of greatest song writers of not only today but all time. At one point I actually found myself looking up what “cadejo” are. (It’s actually pretty interesting!) He’s a master of the story and a master of conveying emotion. His voice is raw, yet beautiful. I had the pleasure of seeing him live earlier this year and the experience really solidified it all for me. This will be an album I play for a long time. If you love Bon Iver, folk music, or just story telling, The Wild Hunt is a must.
1. HighViolet – The National. Brilliant, moody alt rock. Few bands relay the human experience better than The National. It seems that with every album since Alligator, The National has been ebbing its way closer to my favorite of all time. Though the body of work doesn’t yet merit replacing Radiohead, if they have another decade keeping with this trend I don’t know if I could deny them the honor. It may take you a while to “get” The National, but the rewards are worth the wait. High Violet is about as real as it gets. I could honestly pick any song to put on here, and it took me a while to settle on “Anyone’s Ghost.” I truly do hope you enjoy.